Rubio Rejects Criticism That New Gun Laws Could’ve Prevented Shooting

Douliery Olivier/Sipa USA USA

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) on Thursday fell short of calling for any kind of additional restriction on the purchase of high-powered semi-automatic rifles, like the one allegedly used to murder 17 people on Wednesday.

Though he didn’t entirely rule out such efforts in a speech on the Senate floor — “I‘m not saying don’t focus on the gun part,” he said at one point — Rubio repeatedly emphasized that new gun laws were unlikely to prevent shooting massacres like Wednesday’s. 

The senator, an ally of the gun manufacturers’ lobby, was criticized Wednesday for again failing to offer legislative answers to America’s frequent gun massacres.

“I do think that in some circles, it isn’t fair or right to create this impression that somehow this attack happened yesterday because there is some law out there that we could have passed to prevent it,” Rubio said toward the end of a lengthy speech in which he wavered between dismissing gun control efforts and advising against saying “there is nothing we can do.”

“If there was such a law that could have prevented yesterday, I think a lot of people would have supported it,” he said.

“You read in the newspaper that they used a certain kind of gun and therefore let’s make it harder to get those kinds of guns,” Rubio said earlier in his remarks, referring to the AR-15 that police said Nikolas Cruz used Wednesday, and which is responsible for many of the deadliest shooting incidents in modern American history.

“I don’t have some sort of de facto religious objection to that, or some ideological commitment to that per se,” Rubio said. “There’s all kinds of guns that are outlawed and weaponry that’s outlawed and/or special category.”

“The problem is we did that once, and it didn’t work for a lot of reasons,” he continued. “One of them is there is already millions of these on the street. And those things, they last 100 years. And so you could pass a law that makes it hard to get this kind of gun in a new condition, but you’re going to struggle to keep it out of the hands of someone who’s decided that’s what they want to use, because there are so many of them out there already that would be grandfathered in.”

Rubio listed the ways gun restrictions would fail.

“You can do a background check,” he said. “The truth is in almost all these cases I cited, the individual either erroneously passed a background check or would have passed it or did.”

“Even if they couldn’t pass the background check, then they could buy them the way MS-13 does, and other gangs and other street elements do, from the black market.” 

“Again, not because we shouldn’t have a background check. I’m just trying to be clear and honest here,” he said. “If someone has decided I’m going to commit this crime, they will find a way to get the gun to do it.”

“That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a law that makes it harder. It just means understand, to be honest, it isn’t going to stop this from happening. You could still pass the law, per se, but you’re still going to have these horrible attacks.”

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